As if you need yet another reason to get into the festive fall season!
As the air turns a little nippier, the leaves start drifting off the branches, and the nights slowly start getting longer, it can only mean one thing: autumn is officially here! And with that comes the promise of cozier days spent indoors, snuggling with your favorite scary movies, and, of course, the start of comfort food season with plenty of autumn foods ready for harvesting and enjoying.
We’ve rounded up a list of some of our favorite seasonal foods and all the various reasons that you should definitely be adding them to your meal rotations this month – plus a couple of healthy recipes for getting the most out of each bite.
Starting off strong: let’s talk about pumpkins!
The very symbol of fall eating, pumpkins are more than just an autumnal decoration. Pumpkins are chock-full of beta-carotene, which can be converted into Vitamin A and translates to great support for both your eye health and your immune system.
They’re also a great source of Vitamin K, which supports healthy bones, and Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that can help counter the damaging effects of free radicals in the environment.
Finally, pumpkin is also a great source of soluble fiber, an important nutrient that can keep your digestive system regular. And with a whopping 95% of Americans reportedly not getting enough dietary fiber in their diet, a couple of servings of pumpkin can probably go a long way!
Some delicious and healthy pumpkin recipes to try:
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta w/ Toasted Walnuts and Spinach
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
What fall season is complete without apple picking?
That old “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” adage is more than just a saying, as it turns out. Apples are a great source of Vitamin C, the vitamin that’s best known for its role in giving your immune system a major boost (which is a big deal as it starts getting colder and those infectious bugs start going around!).
Apples are also going to be your best friend if you love sweets but are watching your sugar intake. They’re naturally sweetened with sugar but are also great sources of fiber, which can help balance out your intake without spiking your blood sugar too quickly.
While you can certainly enjoy apples as they are, here are some more healthy apple recipes for inspiration:
Apple & Sweet Potato Harvest Bowl
Healthy Apple Crisp
- Butternut Squash
A little bit sweet and a little bit nutty, butternut squash is another delicious autumn harvest food that does really well in your favorite comforting fall dishes. Similarly to pumpkins, butternut squash is a good source of Vitamins A and E, plus plenty of Vitamin C as well for bolstering your immune system.
In addition, each serving of butternut squash also comes with a huge variety of other micronutrients including various B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to incorporate butternut squash into your weekly dinner rotation, here are some good places to start:
Quinoa Power Bowls With Maple Chipotle Brussels and Smoky Butternut Squash
Stuffed Butternut Squash
- Sweet potatoes
If you thought potatoes couldn’t get any better, give sweet potatoes a try! As the name suggests, these orange-hued potatoes are sweeter than the Yukon, russet, or Idaho varieties, which means that they do equally well in both sweet and savory dishes.
Sweet potatoes are another excellent source of Vitamin A – in fact, eating just one sweet potato provides about 400% of your daily Vitamin A needs!
In addition, they’re also a better source of fiber than other potato variations, which means that they can fill you up faster and have less of an impact on your blood sugar. That’s not to say you should rule out white potatoes from your autumnal feasts, though! White potatoes have plenty of potassium, a mineral that acts as an electrolyte to keep your heart ticking regularly and which helps counteract sodium.
Healthy sweet pumpkin recipes to add to your arsenal this fall:
Fall Salad Recipe
Sweet Potato Shepard’s Pie
- Brussels sprouts
Whether you’re enjoying them roasted, boiled, or sliced up in your salad, brussels sprouts are a ubiquitous ingredient in many autumnal eats. Brussels sprouts are in the same cruciferous family as broccoli, kale, and cabbage, so you know they also come with packed with nutrients and potential health benefits!
These small green sprouts are a great source of many crucial vitamins and minerals your body needs, including Vitamins C and K, calcium, iron, and potassium.
They’ve even been studied for potential anti-cancerous effects! Like other cruciferous veggies, brussels sprouts contain sulfurous chemicals called glucosinolates, which break down into compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates that have shown promise in protecting cells from DNA damage and carcinogens in some experiments.
New ways to enjoy brussels sprouts:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing
Lemon Garlic Butter Chicken & Brussels Sprouts
This bright red root is sweet, earthy, and the perfect ingredient for taking your favorite autumnal dishes and salads to the next level. They can be eaten raw, but beets are more popularly used after they’ve been boiled or roasted.
One of the biggest benefits of eating more beets is that it turns out to be great for your heart! Each serving of beets contains folate, a B vitamin that can support your cardiovascular system, as well as plenty of fiber and antioxidants. But one of the most unique benefits of beets is their rich source of dietary nitrates. When eaten, your body can convert those nitrates into nitric oxide, a gas that can help your blood vessels open wider and is therefore associated with better heart health. Beet juice has even been used by athletes to help their performance since it can improve blood flow to your muscles!
Here are some ways to get the most out of these tasty roots:
Air Fryer Beets
Maple Ginger Beet Stir Fry
The start of fall signals the end of summer – and, subsequently, the unofficial end to summer salad season. But autumn also means the start of a bountiful harvest season, and with so many delicious and nutritious vegetables now popping up in your grocery store and farmer’s market, now is the perfect time to get a little cozy and add some of these seasonal favorites to your weekly rotation.